UFC 209 will take place on March 4, 2017, and Tyron Woodley and Stephen "Wonderboy" Thompson will square off for the second time for the UFC Welterweight Championship.
I had Woodley winning a close fight by one round, but I wasn't shocked or surprised by the draw that was the official decision of the judges. Woodley was able to nullify most of Thompson's slick karate striking with power and wrestling. However, in my opinion, Woodley had some issues with his gas tank and Thompson unpredictability as a striker. Woodley's power allowed him to make Thompson think more than twice before launching an assault, because he had him in trouble a few times during the fight.
All of those things combined make this second fight as difficult to call because of the way it went. Everything that many thought Thompson would be able to do to Woodley went out of the window when he dropped him and carried him around the Octagon using his wrestling. Yet, Thompson showed heart and didn't fold under Woodley's intense power and pressure and got out of some dangerous positions.
With that said, I think the winner of the fight will be determined by whoever can take the initiative and be first, doing what they do best.
Thompson's keys to victory:
- Get off first, early and often.
- Invest in some body shots to weaken Woodley and slow him down.
- Defend the take down.
- Tuck the chin to protect from the big shot.
Woodley's keys to victory:
- Be first and go for the take-down early.
- Defend the body to preserve the tank.
- Don't allow your back to hit the cage.
- Cut the legs, cut the distance, and don't back straight up.
This is the classic case of a powerhouse vs a striker and I think it all depends on who's better able to use their game and avoid the talents of the others. I naturally lean toward Thompson as I did in the first fight, because he's cerebral and possesses a variety of tools, and he showed the grit of a champion by not tapping or getting grounded and pounded to death by one of the most dangerous men in the game. However, I'm going to go out on a limb and pick:
Woodley for the win. I think now that he's got a taste of Thompson's skills and proved his ability to nullify a lot of his striking. I think his power, speed, and wrestling advantage would prove him the better man come March 4th.
But the beauty of MMA is that on any night, with a punch or a choke, or something other form of martial skill, anything can happen.